Free NFL Picks Review Week 5

A .500 free football picks week never gets a smile out of me, especially when I had so many great calls. Bengals over Ravens? You bet, 49ers getting ousted by visiting Falcons, yes sir! Cleveland getting 6? Great bet! Giants over the Raiders despite the public love? Any day of the week… But there were some games that didn’t go my way, a half point loss, a complete run through at the hands of the Hawks, and many more. Here’s everything I had….

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Cincinnati Bengals (+9) @ Baltimore Ravens: (WINNER) “I think the Ravens and Bengals are eerily similar as far as team skill is concerned. So 9 points obviously seems like way too much for me. Many are forgetting that the Bengals are one hail-mary away from being 4-0 to start the season. They haven’t dominated their competition, but 3 wins (two against quality opponents like Green Bay and Pittsburgh) give me a lot to like. A lot of people like to say that spreads don’t mean much, that the team that wins covers 80% of the time – and that may be true, but I think this game has the makings of a down-to-the-wire contest, with either team needing a big play to get the win.” If you watched this game, you’d see that these teams are very similar, in both style and talent. Both use a very solid defense to stay close, both rely heavily on the rushing attack, and both make big plays to win games with they have to. The Bengals got the ball last, they got help from some stupid Raven penalties, and they got the win, outright, over the Ravens. You bet!

Cleveland Browns (+6) @ Buffalo Bills: (WINNER)  “I hate to do this, because seeing Eric Man-Jina trade away his star offensive receiver only to put together his first win of the season in the process kind of makes me sick to my stomach. But, as the cards begin to stack, I can see too much to like about Cleveland and the points. They proved last week that they can run the ball well against a good defense. That should go a long way to covering the spread against the Bills.” What’s gross about this game is the fact that the team that won had a quarterback that completed just 2 of 17 passes for 26 yards, while throwing an interception. But like I said, the Browns ability to run the ball would go a long way in terms of covering the spread, and it definitely did. The fact that Cleveland covered and Eric Mangini has to feel like he runs the worst offense in the league makes me feel a lot better about this whole thing.

Washington Redskins @ Carolina Panthers (-3.5): (LOSS)  Damn both these teams, all the way to the bottom of their divisions as far as I’m concerned. I know the Panthers will have to fight softly and carry a little twig to finish below the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I can only hope. The Panthers were down 17-2 halfway through the 3rd quarter, and yet they still managed a way to win and not cover by a half point. I feel used that I lost this game by a half point, but I also feel lucky for it to have been so close after it was 17-2. Either way I lose, look bad or look good, a loss stings.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5) @ Detroit Lions: (LOSS) I hate the Steelers play calling. I’m pretty sure that is what keeps them in close games this season. What didn’t they like about handing the ball to Rashard Mendenhall and getting 5 yards a carry throughout the first half? They should have eaten clock through the 3rd and 4th quarters, but even then I should have covered this game. It took a 25 yard touchdown pass late in the 4th for the Lions to get back in coverage zone. Puke. This is how those double digit spreads come back to haunt you. Still, while I’ll take the loss with open arms, you have to see a bad beat here. They Lions got a pick 6 and a long 4th quarter touchdown pass to get within 8, this game belonged to the Steelers.

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Dallas Cowboys (-8.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs: (LOSS) I don’t know how the Cowboys didn’t cover this spread. Maybe it was the fumbles, maybe just the poor defensive secondary play? Maybe it was the entire first half of being so careful that my grandma would have been begging me to change the channel for some more action. Regardless, the Cowboys needed an out of this world performance from Miles Austin to win the game at all, an OT thriller indeed. I believed in the Cowboys again, it hurt my heart again.

Oakland Raiders @ New York Giants (-15): (WINNER) Thanks for the money, Oakland. I’m not sure where I heard it, but it still has my in stitches, “Roger Goodell needs to stop worrying about fining players for every thing they do and start trying to find a way to unplug the battery that is keeping Al Davis alive.” The Giants killed the Raiders, what’s new?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+15) @ Philadelphia Eagles: (LOSS)  I don’t know what to say, there was a time when a 15 point dog that played some decent games was on hell of a bet. That was another time, another place, not today in the NFL. The Eagles wear big boy pants, the Bucs are that weird pirate guy dressed up in the corner of a Halloween party, the guy nobody knows but everyone’s too nice to kick out because he’s just sitting there looking lost and innocent as can be. It’s hard. That’s a buccaneer, these are the Buccaneers.

Minnesota Vikings (-10) @ St. Louis Rams: (WINNER) “My opinion, the Rams are the worst team in football. Another opinion, the Vikings are one of the best. I know this game is on the road in a dome after a short week, but I can’t over-think this match-up too much. It’s the Vikings and the Rams – and I have to think the Vikings are at least 10 points better than the worst team in football. A dissolved offensive line, a running game that will find no room, and a quarterback issue that has no answer on the team.” Not over-thinking helped me a lot in this one, I wish I could have done that in the Eagle game.

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Atlanta Falcons (+2.5) @ San Francisco 49ers: (WINNER) “I want to take the Niners here, before any research I liked the 49ers, especially just -2.5 at home. I think the 49ers are one of the better teams in football. Atlanta travels a long way to play an old foe, and the Falcons offense hasn’t been nearly as successful as they were last year. The running game has slowed down to a crawl, and Matt Ryan hasn’t thrown the ball all that much, taking very few chances. But I wonder what a week away will do to the Falcons, and I wonder what a week away from playing the JV team in St. Louis does for the 49ers. What I’ve found in my research with Atlanta is that they generally struggle against teams that throw the ball real well, not necessarily a strength of the 49ers. Over their last 14 games, they’ve only lost to the Eagles, Patriots, Cardinals, and Saints – what do all those teams have in common? Prolific passers, air attacks that do most of their offensive damage. Atlanta isn’t great against the run, but they seem to do okay if they can key in on that part of an offense. Shaun Hill has done a good job, but the Falcons will make him win the game for the 49ers. History says he won’t be able to, and that has me going with the small road dog.” Bingo! Yhatzee! Right on the Money! A lot of my buddies called me nuts for this selection, and despite my admiration for Mike Singletary, it feels really good to be right in those situations. Stupid buddies, smart Lucky!

Houston Texans @ Arizona Cardinals (-5.5): (WINNER) The Cardinals are painful to watch. Often, in the same game, they seem like one of the better teams in the league and one of the worst teams in the league. They throw the ball too much, rely heavily on timing throws, and often get into 3rd and long situations. But sometimes they march down the field, scoring with absolute ease. The first half they were that good team, and the second half they needed an awesome goal line stand and a pick six to get the win. I’ll take what I can get.

New England Patriots (-3) @ Denver Broncos: (LOSS) Mike Holmgren-like play calling sealed the Patriots fate, as far as I’m concerned. Draws on 2nd and 3rd down forced punts in the 2nd half, giving the Broncos just enough opportunity to get a huge win. I feel cheated in this one, because the Patriots had to only continue doing what they were doing to succeed. But the Broncos did what they’ve been doing all year, found a way to win and took full advantage.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) @ Seattle Seahawks: (LOSS) The Hawks were hurting, but it didn’t matter. The Jags came out soft, Jones-Drew couldn’t find room to run, Aaron Curry was a beast, and Matt Hasselbeck took full advantage of his wide open receivers. How wrong was I here? Try 44-0…. What can a guy do? Sometimes you swing and miss, sometimes you swing and fall down, but times like this, you swing and miss and fall down and hit yourself in the head on your follow through. Yeah, tough one.

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Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) @ Tennessee Titans: (WINNER)  This one was easier than I thought. The public loved it and I went for it. Glad I did as Peyton has the league on lock-down right now.

New York Jets (-2) @ Miami Dolphins: (LOSS) The Jets defense gave up a lot in this one. Miami ran the ball with power and that wildcat did lots of work. They needed a late touchdown to win it, but with 7 second left Ronnie Brown gave his Fins exactly that. The Jets had their chances to get it done, but Miami had the last laugh, and too full advantage. 7-7 in Week 5, not much there to fall in love with.

Free NCAA Football Picks: Week 5

I haven’t had a big winner yet with my free NCAA picks, so it’s bound to happen this week. I’ve had a tough time with big dogs so far this year, so I’m taking at least a one-week hiatus from those options. I’ve eliminated all my super-fades until I get a better hold on what the state of Washington is up to, but am hoping to find some great value headed in to Wednesday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, Friday Night Football, and of course the fantastic weekend to come. I know it looks like road-team galore… but here’s a dozen big ones for you… Enjoy!

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Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Lousiana Tech Bulldogs (-3.5): On the road for the Warriors isn’t that bad this week as they haven’t played since the 19th. However, I’m still on Tech here. They’ve played pretty well against equal competition, which I think the Rainbows are. Giving up a little over a field goal at home on Wednesday Night seems like a good value pick to me. The favored team has won this battle in all but one occasion in 7 meetings since 2000. The home team has covered in 6 of the last 7.

Colorado Buffaloes (+17) @ West Virginia Mountaineers: I know I said I was big with BIG DOGS, but I promised a reader I’d pick this game, and after looking into it I have to take the Buffaloes and all those Thursday Night points. The Buffs have had nearly 2 weeks to prepare for the Mounties spread offense, and the same goes for WV against Colorado’s rushing attack.This game won’t be as high scoring as expected, and the points look like a hot brunette with light eyes… Sexy. I’ll take ’em!

Pittsburgh Panthers (-6.5) @ Louisville Cardinals: The Panthers finally got over the Louisville hump last season when they rocked the Cardinals 41-7. That marked the first time in the last 20 years (8 total meetings) that Pitt won this match-up. I think they make it a steak against a Louisville team that just doesn’t do the program much justice. Pittsburgh can really run the ball, and they’re making fewer mistakes than in recent years. That helps in a short week.

Michigan Wolverines (pk) @ Michigan State Spartans: I’ll be the first one to tell you that I don’t think Michigan is as good as people give them credit for being. But the Spartans are worse. And if Forcier is playing, and it’s said that he’ll be just fine for this one, I have to give a pick-em nod to the Wolverines. A team that is better on the ground and defensively. They have better athletes and a better coach (though he’s kind of a donkey), and they just win this game.

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Florida State Seminoles (-4.5) @ Boston College Eagles: Smoke BYU, then come out like you own the world only to lose to South Florida – but then walk right on out in an ACC match-up and ice the 3-1 Boston College Eagles… Yeah, I’m predicting that last one. BC isn’t a 3-1 team, they don’t really do anything exceptionally well despite being 3-1 thus far. I like them to get closer to the .500 team they are destined to be by losing to the Seminoles this Saturday.

Alabama Crimson Tide (-17) @ Kentucky Wildcats: The Tide have really beat up on everyone thus far. Their closest game was a 10 point Week 1 win over Virginia Tech where the Hokies needed lots of fluke happenings to keep it close. They’ve dominated thus far, and it’s because they have bigger badder players than most other schools in the country. What was the last game Kentucky played like that? Last week’s 41-7 blitzing at the hands of the Gators. I don’t think it will be that bad, but ‘Bama runs the ball too well, and makes too few mistakes not to hand it to the Wildcats.

LSU Tigers (-2.5) @ Georgia Bulldogs: The Tigers aren’t the 4th best team in the country, I’ll tell you that is one sure thing I know: and you might think that might make them an upset candidate heading into Week 5, but I don’t think Georgia has it in them. They aren’t a Top 15 team in my opinion. I know both these teams play in SEC land where every team is better than every team in other conferences (please) but there’s something about really close wins over Arizona State, Arkansas, and South Carolina that just don’t say 14th in the Nation to me. The Bulldogs won’t be able to put up the points they’ll need to win this one. I’ll take the road favorite in this SEC showdown.

Washington Huskies (+17) @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish:(Again, a pretty big dog, what can I say they just attract me) I don’t see the Irish covering against the big Husky dog in this one. WA had a tough match-up last week, a dominant running team that doesn’t make mistakes. That’s not Notre Dame. This one should be tough, and I don’t think the Huskies will come out in a lull like they did last week. Something about going to Notre Dame with a chance to upset the Irish that has me taking the Dogs here. I think they have a good chance to not only cover, but pull the upset, so I’ll take all those points.

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Oklahoma Sooners @ Miami Hurricanes (+7): I think Miami has the kids to play with a team like Oklahoma. They are playing at home, in front of a crowd that will be nuts, getting hyped for a huge chance to prove themselves once again after they really tumbled in last week’s game against Virginia Tech. A little slap in the face to show you that you may not be everything you think you are usually does a team good, and I think last week’s loss will have that effect on the Hurricanes. Since their loss to BYU, the Sooners haven’t had a tough game to show me what they are really made of, as Idaho State and Tulsa don’t really do it for me. I’ll take the home dog here, even if Bradford gets cleared.

Ohio State Buckeyes (-17) @ Indiana Hoosiers: The Hoosiers played a real tough game last week, many think they should have won, but they fought really hard only to get their hearts broken by Tate Forcier and company. This week the Buckeyes come to town, and I don’t think they’ll be feeling bad for the Hoosiers. Ohio State can beat up on some mediocre Big 10 teams in a hurry. I think they do exactly that in Indy this weekend.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-4.5) @ Mississippi State Bulldogs: They Yellow Jackets may have figured it out last week. However, I don’t think I’d be taking them here anyway if it wasn’t for the great match-up they have against a team that struggles to stop the run. That being said, I think the Jackets are a lot like Auburn, and I see 350+ rushing yards getting fed to the Bulldogs defense this weekend. Gotta take the road favorites here.

USC Trojans @ California Golden Bears (+6): Apparently it’s hard to win against a physical team when you’re looking forward to next week’s huge battle. Fortunately for the Bears, the battle this weekend had some pressure relieved when they got trounced by the Ducks. They are no longer an undefeated top ranked powerhouse heading into a huge game against a Trojans team that always beats them. Nope, they are now in the same boat as USC, 3-1 on the season, one loss to a team that isn’t as good as they are, and looking for redemption against the toughest opponent they’ll have all season. USC’s offense doesn’t impress me, and they aren’t as tough defensively as they’ve been. Jahvid Best has a stigma where he just can’t get yards against top ranked foes, I’m willing to be he pops that bubble in Week 5. This one could go either way, that’s why I’ll be taking the Bears and the point at home.

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Washington State Cougars @ Oregon Ducks (-31): Fade the Cougars… even after two big wins. I stayed away from WSU last week, as they stayed close to the Trojans, so good for me. But they are terrible, and Oregon has figured out what they’re doing. If they don’t put up 50 on the Cougars I will be surprised.

NCAA Free Picks: Week 5

I’m 9 games over .500 on the season after tallying my third winning week in four chances. I’m staying away from the Trojans Thursday Night game against the Beavers because weird things happen in the middle of the week, but I am starting a day early with a road dog heading into Louisville. Check it out below as I’ve got 9 for Week 5…

Friday’s Game

Connecticut Huskies (+3) @ Louisville Cardinals (8:00pm EST): I know games during the week can be weird, and that’s why I like to stay away from them, but I see a lot of value in the Huskies here. Besides the fact that anything can happen in the Big East, the Cardinals just aren’t the team everyone thinks they are. They struggle against everyone and rarely does a drive look clean from start to finish. Connecticut doesn’t do things pretty either, but they are a lot tougher than Louisville, and their confidence is there. I like the Huskies to pull the minor upset, so 3 points is nice.

Saturday’s Games

Pittsburgh Panthers (-16.5) @ Syracuse Orange (12:00pm EST): I don’t like to bet on the Panthers as favorites, it’s really not my style – but against a team like Syracuse, I’ll take my chances. The Orange are brutal, and I’ve said it before, there’s no easier road game than at Syracuse. Pittsburgh should be able to take their methodical attack and accidentally turn it into a yard gathering machine. I like the Panthers to win this game in the 34-10 range.

Navy Midshipmen (+16) @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3:35pm EST): This is a bit of a trap game for the Demon Deacons. They just walked into Florida State and beat the Seminoles as an underdog, and next week they are going up against a Clemson Tiger team that carried a lot of hype into the season. Navy doesn’t seem like much of a challenge, but the Midshipmen can really run the ball, and that physicality can run clock as well as even out the talent level a little bit. I like Navy as a 16 point underdog in a game that’s big for them and a little for Wake Forrest.

Northwestern Wildcats @ Iowa Hawkeyes (-8) (12:00pm EST): The Hawkeyes lost a heart breaker to the Panthers last weekend, but they are the much better team in this game. Northwestern is 4-0, but don’t buy into the record. Games against Syracuse, Duke, Southern Illinois, and Ohio are good ways to build your record to 4-0, but they are bad ways to get your team ready to play conference foes. Iowa won’t take it easy on Northwestern, and their choice to play tough non-conference games like that against Pitt will benefit them in this one.

North Carolina Tar Heels @ Miami Hurricanes (-7) (12:00pm EST): Correct me if I’m wrong, but Miami looked like they got a little of their swagger back last week and now at home against a Carolina team that could be without their leader and best offensive player, T.J. Yates, they can pressure the Heels into lots of mistakes. Even if T.J. plays, he’s not going to be 100%, and if Miami has one thing, they have defensive athletes that can make life tough on a gimpy signal caller. This could be pre-mature, but I’ll take the risk – too many question marks in Carolina’s backfield to ignore the 7 point spread here. Gotta take the Canes.

Buffalo Bulls (+6.5) @ Central Michigan (4:00pm EST): I think the Bulls are the better team, flat out. They smoked UTEP, played well against Pittsburgh, beat a solid Temple team, and played well against a great Missouri squad. I really think they have a chance to take the Mac. Central Michigan is no pushover, and they’ve played well in some games, I just think Buffalo is the better team and so I’ll take them as a near touchdown dog.

Mississippi State Bulldogs @ LSU Tigers (-24.5) (7:30pm EST): I know I’m not usually a numbers guy, and these numbers aren’t the lone reason I’m taking the Tigers here but I figure I might as well share them with you. Mississippi State is 2-4 ATS in their last 6 road games. Mississippi State is 1-5 SU in their last 6 road games. Mississippi State is 1-10 ATS in their last 11 games when playing LSU. Here are the scores from this match-up lately, LSU first: 45-0, 48-17, 37-7, 51-0, 41-6, 31-13, 42-0. Hmm…. I know LSU’s offense isn’t a dynamic scoring machine, but I think they found a thrower in the young kid that finished the Auburn game last week. I also think they seemingly know how to up their game against the Bulldogs. I’ll take em.

Purdue Boilermakers (+2) @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish: I really can’t believe this. This is a “free money” pick for me. It’s so “free money” that I’m considering not risking a ton on it because it just seems way too good to be true. That Irish team that couldn’t do anything until late when the game was over last week – that’s the real Irish team. Notre Dame didn’t beat Michigan, I’m telling you, they took the win that Michigan gave them. Purdue should handle the Irish even in Indiana.

Virginia Tech Hokies (+6.5) @ Nebraska Corhuskers: Hmmm… I might not be the brightest brick in the pool, but I certainly can see some dog value when it eats the food I buy it and craps in my yard. The Cornhuskers really challenged themselves to start the season 3-0. First it was Western Michigan, and then San Jose State, and then New Mexico State. Yikes. The Hokies are getting better every week. They lost to a very tough East Carolina team, then ground out a late win against a tough G-Tech team, and a good Tar Heel team as well. They are ready to dominate the Cornhuskers – you can bet on that. The 6.5 points are just icing on the cake in this one.